With so many resources at our finger tips today, there really isn’t any excuse for not being informed and searching for the correct combination of remedies, foods, exercise, quiet contemplation etc. that is needed to ensure we and our families are set on the optimal course to lead healthy and vibrant lives.

I remind myself daily that ‘filling up the well’ is a necessity. As nurturing caregivers we cannot give unconditionally and forever without taking care of self first.  Practicing what we ‘preach’ is the greatest gift of all.  Actions DO speak louder than words and eyes are always watching.

One of my most precious tools in my arsenal is laughing. It doesn’t cost anything, you don’t have to be certified to practice it, and you don’t have to go to a practitioner. It’s FREE!!

In the late ‘70s I studied various meditations with numerous Spiritual Teachers in India.  One that I’d like to share with you today has had many incarnations throughout the years and is as powerful now as it first was back then.  It’s called The Laughing Meditation.

Upon waking in the morning, you sit up in bed and laugh for 5 minutes continuously. If you have a mirror handy, it’s useful to look into it while doing the exercise. In the beginning you will have to force yourself, but with practice it will come naturally.  The act of laughing stimulates hormones called catecholamines, (cat*e*cho*la*mine) which in turn releases the happy juice – endorphins. With endorphins surging through our bloodstream, we’re more apt to feel happy and relaxed. With each laugh, therefore, we’re relieving stress, reducing anxiety and increasing our stores of personal energy. All of these psychological and physiological results are wonderful to cope with illness, a hospital stay or even a cranky coworker.

Much research has been done on this phenomenon and several businesses sprung up out of its existence. That could be because laughter has been called internal jogging, and it may confer all the psychological benefits of a good workout [source: Brody].

Norman Cousins (June 24, 1915 – November 30, 1990) was an American political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate. Cousins also served as Adjunct Professor of Medical Humanities for the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he did research on the biochemistry of human emotions, which he long believed were the key to human beings’ success in fighting illness. It was a belief he maintained even as he battled heart disease, which he fought both by taking massive doses of Vitamin C and, according to him, by training himself to laugh.[4][5] He wrote a collection of best-selling non-fiction books on illness and healing, as well as a 1980 autobiographical memoir, Human Options: An Autobiographical Notebook. Late in life Cousins was diagnosed with a form of arthritis. His struggle with this illness is detailed in the book and movie Anatomy of an Illness.

Told that he had little chance of surviving, Cousins developed a recovery program incorporating mega doses of Vitamin C, along with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films.

“I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep,” he reported. “When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval.”

Since then, numerous studies have found that while laughter isn’t necessarily the best medicine, it’s pretty darn good.

For example, a study conducted at UCLA found that watching funny shows increased children’s tolerance for pain, which could be helpful when tiny patients have to undergo big procedures [source: UCLA]. At the University of Maryland, researchers found that groups that watched humorous films experienced an increase in blood flow compared to groups that watched downers [source: Wolf].

Researchers at Texas A&M University found that humor leads to increased hopefulness [source: Texas A&M University]. The researchers believe that laughter can help fight negative thoughts in the brain, and with an increase of positive emotions, people begin to see a way out of their misery. Free from the shackles of negativity, people begin to see how to form a plan of attack to deal with the given situation.

Laughter yoga’s founder is Dr. Madan Kataria, an Indian physician. In 1995, he was researching an article called “Laughter: The Best Medicine” for his medical magazine. He discovered many modern scientific studies, which described in depth, the many proven benefits of laughter on the human mind and body. In particular, Dr. Kataria was impressed by Norman Cousins’ book Anatomy of an Illness and the research work by Dr. Lee Berk.

Today, there are more than 6,000 laughter clubs in 60 countries [source: Laughter Yoga International]. Laughter yoga has been practiced in schools, prisons, homes for senior citizens, offices and hospitals.

I trust this meditation will assist you in discovering the true potential that lies in all of us for inner peace and immense joy.  I encourage you to practice regularly for at least one month to reap the full benefits. Thereafter, I believe you will want to continue because of the positive effects you have discovered.

The power to heal lies within all of us.

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